My Dear Friends:
Today we officially change our name to the Community Food and Justice Coalition. The change has been a long time coming, as the scope of CFJC’s work has increased to other parts of the United States.
For the foreseeable future staff emails and website inquiries will be forwarded, so that community members and partner organizations can remain in touch, and vice versa, using the old electronic information.
There is also a certain symmetry to the name change as CFJC was formed as a project of the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) in 2002-2003. And while we want to be clear we make no representations about taking on the work of CFSC, we are proud to be expanding food justice work in partnership with communities across the country.
But what does the name change mean, and why now?
Christina and I were in Atlanta in September, following up on contacts made as a result of our national work on the farm bill. And what we learned from a plethora of urban ag groups and efforts is that the challenges and concerns in Georgia are not so different from California communities.
To be clear, we recognize that every community is, of course, unique. What I mean is that challenges to growing food, building a food hub, and taking back control from the corporate food system are universal.
In Hawaii, where you can plant a stick in the ground and watch it grow, or Atlanta where the Truly Living Well’s Wheat Street farm is located on the site of the first urban housing project in the city, people are trying to do one thing: grow food for the members of their community. It sounds so simple.
But why is it not simple? Because in Hawaii, on the island of Kaua’i, all along the western coastline fields of sugarcane have been razed to make way for open-air GMO seed testing sites. The companies leasing these fertile lands include Syngenta, Dow Chemical, Monsanto, and Pioneer. And more than 85% of Hawaii’s food is imported.
In Atlanta, while elsewhere in meeting rooms across the country communities discuss the viability of creating a food hub, Rashid Nuri and the Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture already operate one. Just ask him.
What this seems to tell us is that maybe Hank Herrera and Dig Deep Farms, City Slicker Farms, Diane Moss and the People’s Produce Project, South Central Farmers, and other urban ag efforts in communities across the country can hold the key to establishing local food hubs.
Also, as a result of our partnership with the Rural Coalition, we are beginning conversations with rural farming operations in California and other parts of the country.
This is an exciting time for CFJC, and we realize we have a tremendous learning curve ahead of us. But it is the work that individuals and families are doing in communities everywhere that inspires us and gives hope that collectively there is a path to taking back our food system.
What CFJC has to offer is a network of people, groups, and communities working on food system issues. Because equity and food justice are at the core of our mission, we approach our work with the aim of connecting efforts to create food systems that are based in equity, including the idea that everyone along the food chain deserves to be able to make a decent living.
We also want to make sure to say and publicize a concept that also seems so simple, but the need for which is repeated again and again in the communities we visit – and that is that you are not alone. We have learned that there is something so powerful about learning that other individuals and communities are also making heroic efforts to reclaim our food system.
But there are also real challenges, and we want to call out just one right now. In future blogs and newsletters, we will invite guest writers to comment on a specific challenge that we hear over and over again: that we don’t play well together. It is not the time or place to begin to catalog examples, or call out any community or group. This message is about hope and forward-thinking.
Over the course of the coming months we encourage you to join with us in addressing this and the other challenges we face in taking back our food system.
Again, we are living in truly “exciting” times.
On the political front, our government seems paralyzed into action. The presidential election has become theater of the absurd, because it is becoming so hard to discern the truth. And we haven’t even begun to discuss global warming.
The Community Food and Justice Coalition is your place to put those and other concerns into perspective and for you to connect the dots.
We changed our name now, because the times call for leadership and because we need to be clear about what we are trying to do, and who we are.
Our job also remains to connect the dots, facilitate the conversation, and link individuals and communities to the elements of that most basic concern – food for people. Connecting local concerns and food system issues to national policy that supports your human right to good food.
At CFJC, we want to thank you for your personal commitment to the health and well-being of our communities. Thank you for caring, and for making the effort, for doing your part in taking back our communities.
It is time once again to ask for your financial assistance.
Please, if you are able, please do consider clicking on this link to make a contribution to the Community Food and Justice Coalition, so that we can continue working on your behalf. Thank you.
Community Food and Justice Coalition